Some manuscripts dating to the 13th century may have been stolen and burned in ‘cultural cleansing’
Churches and mosques in Ethiopia are being attacked and their sacred treasures looted in a catastrophic conflict in the northern Tigray region that is causing destruction, loss of life and a surge of refugees to Sudan, according to international experts.
They are warning of historical vandalism and “cultural cleansing”, fearing that religious sites have not been exempt from shelling and that a nation is being robbed of its ancient religious heritage, to the distress of Ethiopians of all faiths.
There are reports of Christian manuscripts being stolen from churches and monasteries, and burned – with some manuscripts as old as the 13th century – and of historic Muslim sites being damaged and looted. They include the building housing the tombs of 12 of Muhammad’s companions, beside the Al-Nejashi Mosque at Negash, north of Wuqro – the most important Muslim pilgrim site in East Africa.
“This is cultural cleansing,” warned Michael Gervers, a professor of history at the University of Toronto.
“The government and the Eritreans want to wipe out the Tigrayan culture. They think they’re better than rest of the people in the country. The looting is about destroying and removing the cultural presence of Tigray. We don’t know where it’s going yet. One of the first reports I had is that manuscripts were being driven south… They’re emptying the physical evidence of culture from the province.” Continue Reading